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But Bustos, who speaks Spanish and has a grade school education, had no attorney to help at that time, and the court denied his attempts to challenge his conviction on his own.
Then, in 2015, there was a breakthrough in the case when Angel, the actual perpetrator agreed to talk to NCIP.
This was a lie, a desperate attempt by Bustos’ family to prove his innocence.
And so, Bustos faced charges of committing perjury by testifying he saw the doctor who testified on his behalf.
Years later, the District Attorney discovered the informant’s taped statement, and realized it was vital defense information that never emerged at trial and that the jury never heard.
The defense also had new evidence: a newly acquired taped statement from the driver, who identified the killer as his longtime friend, Angel.The other back seat passenger, the victim’s brother-in-law, went to the police.He described the killer, whom he did not know, as a light-skinned, 40-something man weighing about 180 pounds.In the informant’s first taped statement to police, he claimed he had no knowledge as to how the murder was committed.However, through follow-up interviews by law enforcement, he was provided key information about the crime during their questioning of him.
Still, the Stanislaus County District Attorney recognized there was sufficient doubt to relieve Bustos of his life sentence and agreed he could be resentenced to time-served with an plea of no contest to manslaughter with a gun—meaning Bustos could maintain his innocence during the plea—and a guilty plea to two counts of perjury.